Sidney Crosby

Having already won a Stanley Cup, an NHL scoring title, and a prestigious Hart Memorial Trophy, Sidney Crosby went one step further this year and became even more of a Canadian hero than he already was. The Cole Harbour, N.S., native—who has been dubbed everything from Sid the Kid and the leader of Canada’s Generation Next to the best hockey player in the world—scored the golden goal at exactly seven minutes and 40 seconds into overtime, which led Canada’s men’s Olympic hockey team to a thrilling 3–2 victory over its American rivals. “You dream of that moment a thousand times growing up,” says Crosby. “For that to come true is pretty amazing.”

What’s truly amazing, aside from his prowess on the ice, is at just 22 Crosby’s behaviour both on and off the ice is exemplary. “He’s the perfect role model for kids,” says Darren Cossar, the executive director of Hockey Nova Scotia. Days after the Olympic win, Crosby announced that he was donating the $20,000 bonus he received for winning gold to the Sidney Crosby Foundation, which provides financial support to children’s charities in Nova Scotia. “I want to be able to give back to local organizations,” says Crosby, “so other young people have the opportunity to reach for their dreams.”

In Pennsylvania, where he’s based while playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Crosby and Reebok, the company with which he holds an endorsement deal, made it possible for 600 children to play hockey last season through the Little Penguins Learn to Play Hockey program. Back home, his fairytale story is legend. At age three and a half, he skated for free at the Halifax Forum, then played shinny on Bissett Lake near his family home and spent countless hours shooting pucks at the clothes dryer. “As Canadians we have a passion for hockey. Sidney has rekindled that passion for the game,” says Cossar. “He’s brought the dream a little closer to home.”

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